1996 - In the late ’90s on May 30th, the New Zealand Order of Merit was established by Queen Elizabeth II to recognise those “who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits".
36 - While 196 New Zealanders were recognised in the 2019 New Year Honours, 36 of these honorees were celebrated for their work in the creative sector. That’s almost 19% of the full list.
15k - Despite this increasing recognition, the median income for creative professions in New Zealand is only $15,000, leading 55.0% of creative professionals surveyed in a recent report to supplement their income by also working outside the creative sector.
Break in the clouds
In the wake of this week’s unsurprising but utterly grim report from Creative New Zealand and NZ On Air, I felt compelled to take a minute to celebrate our leaders in the creative sector. Over the past few weeks, the Governor-General of New Zealand personally awarded almost two hundred Kiwis with a glistening gold medal, lifelong bragging rights, and well-deserved recognition for their hard work and talent. And when it comes to the creative sector, recognition usually means perseverance.
Celebrating tenacity and perseverance
Despite a complete lack of musical aptitude, I was enrolled in violin lessons as a child. My major takeaway from this period of my life is the rhyme I was taught in my first lesson;
“Dr. Suzuki says never be lazy, just practice and practice until you go crazy!”
Unfortunately, I was lazy and my orchestra days are long behind me, but a blazing example of someone who did not drop her metaphorical violin is honoree Gina Dellabarca, co-founder and director of Show Me Shorts Film Festival. The Chair of the festival’s Board, Andrew Cornwell, said that Gina’s role was “a voluntary one for the first decade.” Now, Show Me Shorts is an Academy Awards-accredited festival that tours Kiwi and international films all over the country. Beyond this, Gina and her dedicated team work to support emerging filmmakers with workshops, a platform to get their work seen and voices heard, and a community.
Tanu Daniel Gago (top image) and Gina Rosanne Dellabarca with Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM QSO DStJ, Governor-General of New Zealand
Shining a light on Pasifika art
Also no stranger to perseverance is Tukua Turia, honoured for services to Cook Islands art and culture. A recognised ‘Ta’unga Tivaivai’, she is an expert in the art of tivaivai, traditional Cook Island quilt-making, and has tutored students at the University of Auckland, Massey University, and the Mangere Cook Islands Elderly Group. In 2018, she teamed with Karen Walker and led other members of the Kuki ‘Airani Creative Mamas group in the creation of a gown for the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange. The gown, showcased in Buckingham Palace, took over 1000 hours to assemble and shone an international light on Pasifika art.
Another honoree drawing much-needed attention to indigenous creatives is interdisciplinary artist Tanu Gago. Tanu has worked tirelessly to encourage discourse around identity, gender and sexuality within Pacific communities. He is the co-founder and creative director of FAFSWAG Art Collective and was previously the Pacific Community Engagement Coordinator for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. On top of this, Tanu has worked as a member on several Arts Boards, as an advisor for Pasifika Festival, and recently presented an exhibition Savage In The Garden at The Physics Room in Christchurch.
Two people close to our heart
The Big Idea’s founder, Elisabeth Vaneveld, was honoured for her years of tireless work, initiative, and commitment to sharing the arts with the whole of New Zealand. It was also a thrill to see Jennifer Ward-Lealand Te Atamira recognised for her amazing contribution to the creative sector. Both of these wonderful women have a huge heart for bringing on others and opening doors for emerging artists.
Jennifer Cecily Ward-Lealand Te Atamira ONZM (top image) and Elisabeth Vaneveld with Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM QSO DStJ
A vast array of celebrated work
Gina, Tukua, Tanu, Elisabeth and Jennifer are just five of those honoured in last week’s investiture ceremonies. The work of those celebrated is vast and different, highlighting crafts from Cushla-Mary Piesse’s Highland dancing to Owen Mapp’s Māori carving and bone art. However, one constant amongst all honorees is a tenacity that even Dr Suzuki would be impressed by. Whether their income reflects it or not, each and every one of those recognised in the New Zealand Order of Merit this year has made a difference. Thank you all. And congratulations!
Tukua Turia with Karen Walker. Image via Viva.co.nz (supplied)
Below is a list of all those recognised in the 2019 New Year Honours for their work in the creative sector:
Carole Anne Beu, of Auckland. For services to the literary industry.
Edmund Bohan, of Christchurch. For services to music, historical research and literature.
Rae Crossley Croft, of Auckland. For services as a violinist.
Ingrid Joy Culliford, of Whanganui. For services to music and education.
Gina Rosanne Dellabarca, of Auckland. For services to the film industry.
Paul Vincent Ellis, of Christchurch. For services to music.
Tanu Daniel Gago, of Auckland. For services to art and the LGBTIQ+ community.
Alan Frank Hitchens, of Tauranga. For services to journalism and the community.
Fay Looney, of New Plymouth. For services to the arts, particularly photography.
Vinka Dragica Lucas, of Auckland. For services to the fashion industry and design.
Terry Isobel MacTavish, of Dunedin. For services to theatre and education.
Karlo Estelle Mila, of Auckland. For services to the Pacific community and as a poet.
Jennifer Patricia Morris, OAM, of Potts Point, Australia. For services to music and charity fundraising.
Paula Jane Kiri Morris, of Auckland. For services to literature.
Philip James Newbury, of Invercargill. For services to glass art.
Thomas Michael O'Connor, JP, of St Andrews. For services to seniors, local government and journalism.
Cushla-Mary Piesse, of Christchurch. For services to Highland dancing.
Fiona Samuel, of Auckland. For services to television and theatre.
Tukua Turia, of Auckland. For services to Cook Islands art and culture.
Elisabeth Vaneveld, of Auckland. For services to arts management.
Rosemary Maud Wildblood, of Porirua. For services to literature.
Winifred Norah Bickerstaff, of Napier. For services to music education.
Barbara Joan Brinsley, of Dunedin. For services to art curation.
Reverend George William Bryant, JP, of Tauranga. For services to publishing and the community.
Elizabeth Jean Curtis, of Havelock North. For services to music.
Graeme John Smith, of Tapanui. For services to the community and theatre.
Walter James Walsh, of Gisborne. For services to the community and broadcasting.
Malcolm James Prentice Black, of Auckland. For services to the music industry.
Murray Edward Fenton, of Auckland. For services to design and business.
Shirley Yeta Horrocks, of Auckland. For services to documentary filmmaking.
Frances Ann O'Sullivan, of Auckland. For services to journalism and business.
Robert Gerard Tapert, of Auckland. For services to the film and television industries.
Associate Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh, of Auckland. For services to poetry, literature and the Pacific community.
Owen Thomas Mapp, of Paraparaumu. For services to Māori carving and bone art.
Jennifer Cecily Ward-Lealand, ONZM, of Auckland. For services to theatre, film and television.
Gaylene Mary Preston, ONZM, of Wellington. For services to film.